SMOS Mission

Evaluation and Qualification of Fibre Pigtailed Lasers for ESA’s SMOS Mission


Authors: Juan Barbero (Tecnológica, Componentes Electrónicos, S.A.) & Martin Mosberger (Contraves Space)

Evaluation and Qualification of Fibre Pigtailed Lasers for ESA’s SMOS Mission


SMOS Mission

SMOS Mission (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity).

Payload Module: Microwave Imaging Radiometer with Microwave Imaging Radiometer with Aperture Synthesis (MIRAS).

MOHA (MIRAS Optical Harness):  Connects antennas with the control and correlator unit via a custom optical bus.

Qualification Approach

  • Highest quality level for optical COTS is according to Telcordia standard or similar.
  • Space qualified components not feasible (power budgets) or simply not existing.
  • A full qualification exercise as per ESCC specification not feasible due to time and cost constraints
  • Industry is too fast moving

Strategy for SMOS/MOHA

  • One time Lot Acceptance Testing for this particular mission
  • One flight lot is purchased and tested for its suitability to the particular space application
  • Evaluation phase with two possible COTS candidates for each component (subjected to most critical test, constructional analysis, manufacturer assessment).

Qualification Approach: Procurement Baselines

To reduce qualification effort

  • Procure different parts with as many similarities as possible:
  1. Same optical fibre.
  2. Same pigtail cable.
  3. Same fibre optic connector

Assess willingness of manufacturer to cooperate in the proceeding

  • Willingness to disclose exact processing
  • Willingness to manufacture according to custom requirements (use the supplied fibre, cable, connectors).
  • Willingness to help in failure analysis


Evaluation and Qualification approach:

  • Most manufacturers are not willing to customise their process for a small volume order.
  • Smaller manufacturers show greater interest and higher flexibility to customise their manufacturing and/or disclose the exact processing.
  • A cost effective project qualification approach has been presented.

Qualification tests

  • Optical measurements through fibres are less repetitive than electrical measurements. Optical connectors repetitiveness is lower than for electrical connectors.

Read or download the full report here

Juan Barbero

This post is also available in: Spanish